UK single release: Give Ireland Back To The Irish by Wings

Wings’ debut single, ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’, was released in the United Kingdom on 25 February 1972.

Before I did that, I always used to think, God, John’s crackers, doing all these political songs. I understand he really feels deeply, you know. So do I. I hate all that Nixon bit, all that Ireland bit, and oppression anywhere. I think our mob do, our generation do hate that and wish it could be changed, but up until the actual time when the paratroopers went in and killed a few people, a bit like Kent State, the moment when it is actually there on the doorstep, I always used to think it’s still cool to not say anything about it, because it’s not going to sell anyway and no one’s gonna be interested.

So I tried it, it was number one in Ireland and, funnily enough, it was number one in Spain, of all places. I don’t think Franco could have understood.

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney In His Own Words

Give Ireland Back To The Irish single - Wings

‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ was rush released by EMI within a month of its recording, though not without some resistance from the label.

I wasn’t really into protest songs – John had done that – but this time I felt that I had to write something, to use my art to protest. I wrote ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’, we recorded it and I was promptly phoned by the chairman of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, explaining that they wouldn’t release it. He thought it was too inflammatory. I told him that I felt strongly about it and that they had to release it, and he said, ‘Well, it’ll be banned.’ And of course it was – the BBC could not play it. But it was number one in Ireland, and in Spain for some reason. It was just one of those things you have to do in life, because you believe in the cause. And protest was in the context of the times.
Paul McCartney
Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band On The Run

Sir Joseph was correct. The BBC did ban ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ on 10 February 1972, two weeks prior to the release date. It was also banned by the ITV network and Radio Luxembourg.

The ban did, however, help the song’s profile, at a time when Wings needed all the publicity they could get.

Wings live: Oxford University
US single release: Give Ireland Back To The Irish by Wings
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